Corey Heim used a teammate’s help to defeat another on the penultimate lap to win his maiden NASCAR Truck Series race At Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Corey Heim completed a last-lap pass on Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in only his fifth career start, similar to a classic superspeedway finale.
Heim’s No. 51 Toyota finished 0.173 seconds ahead of Ben Rhodes’ Toyota, while Ty Majeski finished third and Smith finished fourth. Zane Smith, the winner of the Daytona International Speedway, rounded out the top five.
“I feel like our #51 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was really good,” said Heim.
“It could suck up to the #18 (Smith) with five to go and anytime I try to make a run to simulate it a little bit. It’s hard to say.”
“I could build a big enough run to get up to his rear quarter panel I could have got a shot at it. The #4 (Nemechek) truck pushed me out and gave me a big advantage there at the end.”
“My crew chief Marty Lindley put me in a perfect spot. We were running in the twenties for most of the race to try to stay safe… I knew strategy was going to have to take us to the front.”
“Marty did a great job, so did my whole KBM #51 JBL Tundra TRD Pro crew. Just such a phenomenal job by these guys. They really helped me at the end.”
“[Winning at a home track] super special. I’ve been in Victory Lane here a bunch of times as a kid racing Bandoleros. It was such a dream to come back here and win a race. It’s surreal. It hasn’t sunk in. Just unbelievable to be here.”
With its increased banking and 1.5-mile length, the rebuilt Atlanta Motor Speedway is commonly regarded as a hybrid between a regular intermediate oval and a superspeedway.
Smith, who won the most recent Truck race in Las Vegas a fortnight ago, began on the pole, although Heim started nineteenth due to a driver swap between races (Kyle Busch finished second in Vegas), which affected his qualifying position in the qualifying process.
Stewart Friesen claimed the lead on the first lap and went on to win the first stage ahead of Grant Enfinger, Derek Kraus, Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton, Tanner Gray, Smith, Ross Chastain, John Hunter Nemechek, and Tyler Ankrum, who started second.
While there were no cautions in the opening stage, Hailie Deegan’s race was cut short when she suffered a flat tyre after colliding with Colby Howard, which subsequently caught fire.
Deegan has had a rough West Coast stretch after crashing out in Las Vegas and having her Mint 400 debut delayed by a power steering problem last weekend. Deegan was unharmed in the fire and afterwards shared his story on social media.
“Yes I’m okay now,” Deegan’s tweet read. “Our truck and times were super fast. First flat was caused from the 91 plowing into me on lap 7 on the back stretch for no reason.”
“I was on fire for multiple laps. I started suffocating and couldn’t breathe when the fire extinguisher and black smoke engulfed the truck on pit road.”
“I couldn’t get out because I couldn’t see the window net. I declined my interview because I couldn’t say 2 worsd without coughing/choking”.
The second stage was similarly pretty clear, despite a debris flag on lap 51. Nemechek took first place, followed by Ty Majeski, Smith, Eckes, Ankrum, Crafton, Dean Thompson, Gray, Carson Hocevar, and Ryan Preece.
Despite gaining stage points, Eckes and Thompson’s day was ruined when they collided with Lawless Alan of Thompson’s Niece Motorsports squad on lap 69. Additional cautions were issued for Tate Fogleman’s spin, Gray colliding with Jordan Anderson and Fogleman, and Kris Wright, another Niece victim.
At the front, Smith controlled the stage and appeared to be on his way to winning the race for the second time. As they reached turn one, Heim received a big push from KBM ally Nemechek who was two laps down after having to pit for damage to catch Smith. The Heim/Nemechek pair took the lead, and Nemechek guarded his teammate as Heim cruised to victory.
Heim, a Georgia native who runs a part-time Truck schedule and finished second in the ARCA Menards Series title in 2021, is the only driver since his boss Kyle Busch won five Xfinity Series races in 2004 to win the season opener at Daytona and a NASCAR national series race in the same year.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Atlanta speedway Race results
|1||19||51||Corey Heim||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||135||Running|
|2||15||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||135||Running|
|3||4||66||Ty Majeski||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||135||Running|
|4||1||18||Chandler Smith||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||135||Running|
|5||25||38||Zane Smith||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||135||Running|
|6||2||52||Stewart Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota||135||Running|
|7||11||17||Ryan Preece||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||135||Running|
|8||9||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||135||Running|
|9||18||19||Derek Kraus||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Chevrolet||135||Running|
|10||7||22||Austin Wayne Self||AM Racing||Chevrolet||135||Running|
|11||10||16||Tyler Ankrum||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||135||Running|
|12||8||23||Grant Enfinger||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||135||Running|
|13||22||24||Jack Wood||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||135||Running|
|14||20||61||Chase Purdy||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||135||Running|
|15||34||02||Jesse Little||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||135||Running|
|16||16||98||Christian Eckes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||135||Running|
|17||29||33||Chris Hacker||Reaume Brothers Racing||Toyota||135||Running|
|18||33||3||Jordan Anderson||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||135||Running|
|19||31||46||Matt Jaskol||G2G Racing||Toyota||135||Running|
|20||30||12||Spencer Boyd||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||134||Running|
|21||21||44||Kris Wright||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||134||Running|
|22||23||56||Timmy Hill||Hill Motorsports||Toyota||134||Running|
|23||36||41||Ross Chastain*||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||133||Tyre|
|24||12||4||John Hunter Nemechek||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||133||Running|
|25||3||88||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||133||Running|
|26||26||91||Colby Howard||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Chevrolet||133||Running|
|27||5||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||132||Running|
|28||35||47||Brennan Poole*||G2G Racing||Toyota||130||Running|
|29||32||9||Blaine Perkins||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet||126||Running|
|30||6||25||Matt DiBenedetto||Rackley WAR||Chevrolet||123||Running|
|31||17||30||Tate Fogleman||On Point Motorsports||Toyota||91||Accident|
|32||28||43||Thad Moffitt||GMS Racing with Reaume Brothers Racing||Chevrolet||79||Engine|
|33||24||45||Lawless Alan||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||75||Accident|
|34||13||40||Dean Thompson||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||68||Accident|
|35||14||20||Matt Mills*||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||52||Suspension|
|36||27||1||Hailie Deegan||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||24||Tyre|